- Polite and understated chief justice of Pakistan is an antidote to the rising temperatures, writes Aitzaz Ahsan
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has been named among the 100 Most Influential People of 2022 by Time magazine.
Bandial is "widely respected for his personal integrity, as he, the Columbia- and Cambridge-educated jurist, bears the heavy mantle of not just delivering justice but also being seen to do so," lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan noted in the profile he penned for CJP and placed in the leaders' category.
Ahsan described the persona of Pakistan's top judge in the backdrop of the no-confidence motion in the parliament that resulted in the ouster of prime minister Imran Khan as well as subsequent developments involving the crucial role of the Supreme Court in containing the constitutional and political crisis.
"Pakistan, a nation of more than 220 million, is too big to fail yet too unpredictable to ignore. With a fragile economy in a hostile neighbourhood, the country was already walking a tightrope before the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government by a unified opposition backed by the army," Ahsan wrote about the top judge.
He wrote that the "polite and understated chief justice of Pakistan and antidote to the rising temperatures", took on the challenge when the country's economy and the civil-military relationship were at a critical point.
Discussing the SC's ruling which termed the rejection of the no-confidence motion against former premier Imran Khan unconstitutional, Ahsan wrote: "As other institutions lock horns in a battle for advantage ahead of impending elections, the court turned up as the final arbiter."
Born in Lahore on September 17, 1958, Justice Bandial received elementary and secondary education from schools in Kohat, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and Lahore. He secured a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University, followed by a Law Tripos degree from Cambridge and qualified as a barrister-at-law from the prestigious Lincoln’s Inn in London.
In 1983, he was enrolled as an advocate of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and a few years later, as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In his law practice at Lahore, Justice Bandial dealt mostly with commercial, banking, tax and property matters. Justice Bandial also handled international commercial disputes after 1993, right up until his elevation.
Justice Bandial also appeared in arbitration matters before the Supreme Court and various international arbitral tribunals in London and Paris. Justice Bandial was elevated as a judge of the LHC on December 4, 2004. He served as chief justice of the LHC for two years until his elevation as a judge of the apex court in June 2014.
During his career in the superior judiciary, Justice Bandial has rendered a number of important judgments on issues of public and private law. These include pronouncements on civil and commercial disputes, constitutional rights, and public interest matters.
Justice Bandial also taught contract law and torts law at the Punjab University Law College, Lahore until 1987 and remained a member of its graduate studies committee, while serving as the LHC judge.
He is among those judges who had refused to take Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) oath after Pervez Musharraf proclaimed an emergency in the country on 3rd November 2007.
He was restored as a result of the lawyers’ movement for the revival of the judiciary.